In January of 2015 my brother chatted with me on MSN Messenger (remember that?) about a mailing he got from an organization calling itself Saint Matthew’s Churches. They had sent him the amazingly wonderfully amazing Anointed Jesus Prayer Rug which, they promised, would perform a legitimate miracle by opening its closed eyes if you just stared at it long enough and prayed.
The idea was that “Jesus sees your needs” and all you had to do to be financially blessed by the Son of God was say, “Yes, Lord Jesus, I do need Your financial blessings upon me and my family’s finances!” and then send a “seed gift” to the folks at Saint Matthew’s Churches along with the prayer rug. Afterall, you have to spend money to make money, right? Apparently the same rules apply with God. Though you’d think you’d get to keep the prayer rug. I guess they didn’t have enough to go around even though it was clearly a cheap printing on low-quality cloth.
They also had a big form to fill out where you could check off what things you were struggling with and then they’d pray for God to help you with those things, but the big thing they kept emphasising in the package was just how much money other people had been “blessed” with. One woman got $46,000 after praying to the rug and sending it back with her seed gift and another person got $10,000. You can read my original blog post about it here.
Fast forward 14 years and I come home from work to find this envelope waiting for me in my mailbox:
When I saw it was from Saint Matthew’s Churches I knew I recognized the name and as soon as I opened the envelope I knew why. It’s the same scam as my brother got almost a decade and a half ago.
Well, not quite the same as there is no amazingly wonderfully amazing miracle Anointed Jesus Prayer Rug this time. No, this time it’s a Prosperity Handkerchief. Production values have definitely gone down over the years as the Anointed Jesus Prayer Rug was printed on something resembling cloth whereas this Prosperity Handkerchief doesn’t perform any miracles and is clearly printed on a standard 8×11 sheet of copier paper. Seriously:
The spiel, however, is very close to the original. Using this amazingly wonderfully amazing Prosperity Handkerchief has resulted in folks having all manner of Spiritual, Physical, but — most important of all — FINANCIAL blessings rained down upon them from the Good Lord above. God sees you need money and He’s willing to be most generous so long as you’re willing to be generous first with Saint Matthew’s Churches.
As you look through the scans of the brochure then sent me below, note the lack of specificity of the rewards compared to 14 years ago. Clearly the number of folks complaining about this scam to the BBB and various charity watchdogs has had an impact. Instead of “this woman got $46,000” it’s now “I used this [Prosperity] Handkerchief and … I received [a huge financial blessing].” I guess so long as you make the testimonials vague enough and put shit in brackets with lots of underlines then it’s A-OK.
I also find it amusing how so much of the artwork and styling looks like something crapped out in the 1950s. They claim to have been established in 1951 so I suppose that’s not surprising, but you’ll note that in that last scan above there’s a very modern roll of hundred dollar bills and a Cadillac SUV that has been crudely photoshopped in. Sure, folks got jobs and raises and just plain old happiness, but LOOK AT THE MONEY AND CARS!
“But,” I hear you say, “what about the miracle?” Well this time they have something even BETTER than a miracle! They have a PERSONALIZED PROPHECY! You may remember seeing something about that on the back of the envelope up above. You’re not supposed to open it until after sunset the day after you get the mailing for reasons that are never specified. Additionally, you shouldn’t open the prophecy until after you have sent the paper handkerchief and your “seed” money back to the church. If you’re not going to send the money then you must DESTROY the prophecy without reading it!
Ha! Yeah, I’m not sending them shit and I am reading this supposedly highly personalized prophecy that God dictated to them to send to me even though He could’ve saved on postage if He’d just show up and tell me Himself. I wonder why “He” doesn’t just do that?
Wow, that was, underwhelming. Lots of generic talk about a “greater purpose” that I “haven’t discovered yet” and “the power was IN YOU ALL ALONG” bullshit. I’ve seen phony psychic readings that were more specific than this claptrap.
Lastly, we have the final page that has the “what other shit other than money do you need us to pray for you which we totally won’t do” form. I particularly like how personalized the opening is: “Dear … Someone Connected with This Home, Who Needs Prayer and God’s Divine Help and Blessings… In the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. ” Yeah, that’s totally not my name.
So, yeah, 14 years later and they’re still at it with a few tweaks to the message to stay just this side of legal. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised as they were at it for longer than that prior to my brother telling me about them.
When I first wrote about them in 2005 I mentioned that Saint Matthew’s Churches made $26 million in 1999, which was the last year they made their tax records public. As of 2007 it’s estimated they were pulling down $6 million a month. That’s a lot of sheep being fleeced. Mostly elderly sheep too. They construct their mailing lists specifically to target older believers many of whom are the least likely to be able to afford sending along money and you can bet your ass that those who do will find a whole lot more prayer scam letters showing up in their mailboxes.
In that original post about these asshats I said that I was torn between feeling angry that the religiously gullible are being taken advantage by an unscrupulous organization and feeling that they’re getting what they deserve for being gullible sheep to begin with. That hasn’t changed much over time and neither has the tactics of Saint Matthew’s Church. So I suppose the only thing to say is: buyer beware.
I’ve been writing up TMFWMYC articles for years now and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from them it’s that when Jesus speaks to you, nine times out of ten, you’re probably better off ignoring him.
Take the example of James A. Mucciaccio Jr. who did about $50K of damage to his 2000 Ferrari coupe when he heard the call to drive it off a Palm Beach dock into a lake from none other than the Son of God himself:
Police said Mucciaccio told them he was waiting for a friend to pick him up by the dock. When the officer told Mucciaccio he couldn’t park on the dock, Mucciaccio reversed toward the road but then suddenly switched into drive and drove into the inlet “at a high rate of speed,” the report says.
Police said Mucciaccio, who Palm Beach Fire-Rescue said was uninjured, “was able to exit” the car before it sank and was eventually helped onto a boat by a passing fisherman.
After reaching shore, Mucciaccio walked back to the officer, police said, and said Jesus told him to drive off the dock “and into a 6-foot window.” Mucciaccio also told police, “Money is going to be irrelevant in two days; remember to smile,” according to the report.
The passing fisherman who helped Mucciaccio to shore told police that Mucciaccio said he drove into the inlet because the “officer on the dock was Egyptian and he did not believe in Jesus.”
Now it’s possible that Jesus just doesn’t understand how cars are supposed to be utilized — it’s not like they were around in his time — but that seems like some really questionable advice.
Now I can already hear you furiously typing in the comments about how clearly this guy was nuts and Jesus didn’t actually tell him to drive his car into the lake, but the news article notes that the police haven’t stated if Mucciaccio had or would be charged with any crimes even though he did $1K of damage when he sideswiped a metal ladder that was town property on his way into the water. Clearly the police accepted his claim as God’s honest truth and who are they to stand in the way of an order from Jesus even if it doesn’t make any sense?
If you’re reading this then chances are the world failed to end on April 23rd, 2018. Again. This time courtesy of “numerologist” David Meade. According to Mr. Meade, today the sun, the moon and Jupiter will line up in the constellation Virgo fulfilling one of the signs from Revelation 12:1-2. Specifically, the bit about a woman appearing in the heavens “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” Thus heralding in The Rapture via the appearance of the mythical Planet X passing by the planet causing all sorts of holy hell to break out.
One small issue: the sun, the moon and Jupiter won’t actually line up in the constellation of Virgo today. Jupiter will be in the constellation Libra, the moon in Gemini, and the Sun in Aries. At least from the Earth’s perspective. Also, Planet X is a myth.
One other small issue is that this isn’t the first time Mr. Meade has made this prediction. He made a similar claim last September and when, spoiler alert, the world failed to end he tried to shift the date around a couple of times, but the world persisted in spite of his predictions.
Hopefully, you didn’t sell all your belongings in preparation for this latest apocalypse as some folks have done in the past. It would’ve been a real shame if the world had ended today as this is the first really nice weather we’ve had this year and I’m planning on riding my new bicycle.
Plus, had it ended before I got to see Avengers: Infinity War I would’ve been super pissed.
Well, that was quick. Had someone who asked me to friend them two or three days ago unfriend and block me within the past 12 hours. I only agreed to accept the friend request because we had a mutual friend, but apparently she didn’t look first to see if she’d appreciate my point of view on things spiritual before sending out the invite.
It all started when she posted this Atheism meme on the right here to her wall. It was exactly the sort of thing I find hard to let slide by without comment. So I pointed out that Atheism has nothing to do with the Big Bang Theory or the Theory of Evolution. That atheism says nothing about a person’s beliefs beyond the fact that they lack belief in god(s). Above and beyond that, it misrepresents the science of both theories.
Click to embiggen.
Things went downhill quickly from there. Someone else asked what it was the meme was trying to say and I pointed out that it was a poor attempt to clapback at a similar meme on Christianity (also to the right). The difference between them being that the Christianity meme hits on actual tenets of Christian faith — everlasting life through belief in a resurrected god, the taint of sin, Eve and forbidden fruit, etc. — that sound ludicrous when you think about it whereas the atheism one doesn’t because atheism isn’t a religion that requires adherence to doctrine.
Then a fourth person made a comment about “a-theism” meaning they must be “a-gainst God” to which I responded with the fact that it’s hard to be against something that doesn’t exist. You may as well say you’re against Unicorns for all the sense that would make. That the word “atheism” has been around since before the 5th century and is derived from the ancient Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning “without god(s)”. When I next returned to this thread because someone had liked my comment I was surprised to see it had been deleted.
My new friend then started asking me if I didn’t understand “allegory”, but rather than take up the argument, I pointed out that a previous comment had been deleted. I said I was happy to have this discussion with them if it wasn’t going to upset them, but if my comments were just going to be deleted then I was certain I could find better ways to spend my time.
It was at this point that she took it upon herself to explain to me that her concept of god was less old-white-bearded-guy-in-the-sky than it was “Consciousness” with a capital C. She went on to tell me that there are no atheists in fox holes and that the reason I didn’t believe in whatever it is she considered to be God was because I lacked the curiosity and desire to truly know the truth.
One of the things that always irritates me is when someone who barely knows anything about me attempts to explain to me what I do and don’t know or how much effort I’ve put into understanding or learning about something. So I pointed out to her how arrogant it was to presume that I must not have been sufficiently curious enough or wanted to know the truth bad enough just because I don’t believe the same things she does. I said it was that kind of you-must-not-have-believed-enough “victim blaming” was, frankly, offensive. I pointed out that dismissing my viewpoint being a result of my apathetic curiosity was a lazy way to avoid having to provide support for her beliefs.
Of course, I was much more eloquent in my phrasing, but I’m trying to recall all of this from memory because it appears I’ve been unfriended and blocked as there’s no sign of the comments she had left on posts on my wall and I no longer see her in my friends list.
Not that I am at all bothered by this. Clearly she was happy to be my friend so long as we expressed similar viewpoints. Which, politically at least, we did. However, the moment I disagreed with her on her spiritual beliefs she couldn’t unfriend me fast enough. The thing about it is, I worked very hard not to suggest she was an idiot and even when I got irritated, I tried to keep it civil. I also attempted to drop the matter with a I’ll agree to disagree and move on, but she had to go and try and tell me how I had failed to be curious enough.
Chalk one more win up to my sparkling personality.
Conservative Christians like to make a lot of noise about morality despite the fact that they’re often not capable of adhering to the morals they insist the rest of us follow. Whether it’s the deeply religious fundamentalist who protests at the local abortion clinic that ends up getting an abortion the moment they have an inconvenient pregnancy only to go back to protesting abortion the next day or the Christian who rails against the evils of homosexuality only to be caught engaging in the very thing they decry.
So too it seems is this true about pornography. According to a study by Samuel L. Perry of the University of Oklahoma recently published in the Journal of Sex Research, there is no shortage of Christians who consider porn to bad yet still watch it just the same:
“Having studied what conservative Christians think about pornography as well as their consumption habits, I started to notice a bit of a discrepancy. In every study of which I’m aware, conservative Christians are far more likely than other Americans to reject pornography on moral grounds. There is basically no justification for it whatsoever in their minds. However, I also started to notice that, despite their unequivocal rejection of pornography, conservative Christians aren’t considerably less likely than other Americans to report viewing it.
“Sure, a number of studies show that, say, conservative Protestants and frequent churchgoers view porn somewhat less often than other Americans,” Perry told PsyPost. “But that’s not the case in every study. In some studies, for example, being a conservative Protestant or frequent churchgoer didn’t make much of a difference at all in terms of porn use.
He sat down and went through data from a 2006 Portraits of American Life Study (PALS) which tracks religion, morality, politics and other social issues and found that 10% of Americans who viewed porn as morally wrong still reported having watched it within the previous year.
“In fact, evangelical Protestants and other sectarian Protestant groups were the most likely of all religious groups to report the experience of ‘incongruence,’ saying porn is always immoral, but viewing it anyway. To put that in perspective, less than 6% of religiously unaffiliated persons reported believing porn is immoral but watch it anyway, compared to over 13% of evangelical Protestants or other sectarian Christian groups.”
Interestingly, this incongruence was only amongst the men as he found little evidence that religious women who held porn as morally wrong still viewed it anyway. Ironically for men, the more they attended church the more likely they were to view porn in spite of their belief it was bad:
“When I looked at measures of religiosity, I found there was an important gender dynamic at play. The connection between church attendance and prayer frequency and experiencing an incongruence between one’s porn beliefs and usage only applied to men. But as men’s church attendance or prayer frequency increased, their likelihood of experiencing that incongruence (believing porn is wrong, but watching it anyway) increased in a linear fashion,” the researcher explained.
“For example, among those Americans who ‘never’ attend church, only about 7% of men report experiencing an incongruence between porn beliefs and usage. But at the highest frequencies of church attendance, over 25% of men report experiencing an incongruence. That means that for those men who attend church services several times a week, roughly 1/4 of them say porn is always immoral, but they watch it anyway. The results were similar for prayer frequency as well. ”
All of that said, the data was limited enough that questions about frequency of viewing porn or why these men watched something they considered morally wrong couldn’t be answered. In the end it would seem “the power of your dick compels you” is the best explanation we’re likely to get.
The ruling was announced in a letter to bishops by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
He has said the bread can be low-gluten, but the wheat must contain enough protein for it to be made without additives.
For those of you who aren’t Catholics, one of the core beliefs is that the wafers and wine they consume during mass literally turn into the flesh and blood of Christ once they’ve been consecrated. This belief was obligatory in 1215 with the Fourth Council of the Lateran.
Don’t even THINK of using these in the Catholic church.
The Vatican appears to be declaring that, despite being an all-powerful entity responsible for the existence of all creation who can literally do anything he can imagine, God is incapable or unwilling to perform transubstantiation on gluten free bread.
He added: “The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition.
“It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.”
And don’t you even begin to think any old wine will do as Jesus blood:
“The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances.”
Leaving aside the cannibalistic aspects of this ritual for a moment, you would think God would have had the foresight of the sort of problems that a Jesus cracker with gluten in it would cause Catholics with Celiac disease, what with being all-knowing and all. Which calls into question that whole transubstantiation thing to begin with. I mean, if the cracker literally becomes the flesh of Christ then wouldn’t that remove any gluten in it? Or did Jesus have naturally occurring gluten in his flesh?
Probably best not to think about that too much.
Lutherans, who also practice this odd ritual, don’t seem to be as hung up on what the cracker is made out of and generally leave it up to the local churches to decide if they’re willing to substitute gluten free bread. Methodists can also use gluten free bread or rice cakes. I’ve not checked into the other denominations that engage in a similar ritual, but I’d bet they are also more accommodating.
One can only assume that the Catholic church doesn’t think God is capable of turning anything other than unleavened wheat bread into Jesus flesh. Or he’s just that much of a petty bread snob that he refuses to do so.
“The woman’s place is in the home. Your place is in the home. It even says so in the Bible. You may think that you’re contributing to your household by coming into work, but you’re not. While you’re in here ‘working’ this is the reason your husband must see another woman on his way home from a long day at his work. Because you should be home taking care of the household duties, you may think what you are doing ‘working’ is right, it is really essentially a disgrace to his manhood and to the American family. So instead of coming to your ‘job’ and looking for handouts to feed your family, how’s about going home and cleaning your house and cooking a hot meal for your husband and children, the way your husband and God intended, and help make America great again. Praying for families and our nation.
(Guests’ last name)”
Needless to say, the waitress in question was upset at the condescending lecture she received instead of a gratuity. Especially so given that she is unmarried and has no children.
The guests were very friendly and polite while I served them, which made this come as an even bigger surprise. They got up to pay, and I thought they had left. I bused off their table, and was taking an order for another nearby table of guests when I observed them come back, slip the napkin on the table, and dart out the door.
I felt mortified, embarrassed, humiliated even. I felt hurt, and a bit heartbroken. It is a bit disheartening and discouraging that things like this happen at this day and age.”
To be fair, we know nothing about the circumstances of the Christian couple in this story other than the waitress guesses they were in their mid-50’s. It’s entirely possible that they’re going through a rough period and just couldn’t afford to leave extra money on the table as a tip. Even if that were the case, it really doesn’t justify the bullshit note they decided to leave instead. The way they went about doing it was especially cowardly and shows they knew how dickish a thing it was to do. Not leaving a tip is a bit douchey, but replacing it with a note lecturing someone about how they should be living their lives takes it to a whole other level of assholeness.
But hey, they’re just good Christians spreading God’s love. This sort of thing happens all the time because some people can’t accept that other folks might not believe the same things they do and they’ll be damned before they let you get away with living your life the way you see fit.
Jesus is love, right? That’s what they keep telling us. God is love. Jesus is love. So on and so forth. Love thy neighbor as thyself. We hear it all the time from folks trying to sell us on Christianity. Sounds good, except that it seems there are a lot of Christians who either don’t understand the message or don’t actually believe it.
Events like the mass murder of 49 people at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse often bring out the true nature of some self-professed Christians. One only has to turn to Twitter to see it first hand:
Faggots getting shot is perfectly right and good. God be praised for #OrlandoShooting.
The parade of tweets like these just goes on and on and on, but it’s not just individual Christians showing their true colors. Whole churches are getting in on the act. It goes without saying that the asshats at Westboro Baptist Church have been celebrating the Orlando massacre, but they’re not alone. There’s people like Pastor Steven Anderson in Arizona who has been putting out hateful videos on YouTube for awhile now. He wasted no time responding to the Orlando shooting:
Anderson is really just one step removed from the shooter. He isn’t upset that a bunch of gays were killed so much as how it was done. He doesn’t condone vigilantism. He thinks killing homosexuals is a job the U.S. Government should be doing itself. Because Jesus is love or something. Oh, and you shouldn’t sympathize with the victims either:
He’s right about at least one thing. There’s plenty of passages in the Bible to justify what he’s saying. You don’t have to look hard to find them and he even provides a couple in his videos.
Again, he has plenty of material in the Bible to back his views up. This is the “good” book so many Christians claim to follow. This is the “loving God” they claim to believe in. For all the shit that the Quran commands of its Muslim followers that so many like to point to as proof of it being a wicked religion, there’s just as much in the Bible that you could make the very same argument about.
These people acknowledge that and celebrate it. They take glee in the idea that the victims are burning in Hell. It justifies their hate. It grants them permission to treat anyone they don’t like as less than human. As unworthy of life. Be they gay, atheist, a different race, a different religion, or what have you. They will insist that Jesus still loves you as they call for your death over your perceived sins and while they themselves may not kill you, you can be damned sure they won’t be upset should someone else do it for them. In their perfect world, the government would be taking care of you for them.
This is that famous Christian love they want to sell you.
There’s a lot of fucked up shit in the Bible. Things like incest, murder, rape, and animal sacrifice to name just a few. In fact, that last one shows up quite a lot in the Old Testament. There was a time when God really loved the smell of a freshly slaughtered animal on a pyre, but for the most part Christians stopped sacrificing animals after Jesus came along.
Investigators spoke with Thompson’s family, including his daughter and wife. When Thompson went back into the house, they say he got more erratic and told his family, in front of his four minor children, that he needed to make a sacrifice of a male.
According to the victims, Thompson stated it had to be either himself, his firstborn 6-year-old son or the family dog — a small, white poodle weighing about 15 pounds. That’s when the family tried to escape the home but Thompson was able to grab hold of the dog. Investigators say the family pleaded with Thompson not to hurt the dog.
But the situation got more gruesome. Goodyear police say Thompson admitted to then breaking the dog’s neck and strangling it until it “could not breathe.” He allegedly told officers the sacrifice was not done and that he had to put the dog in a “lake of fire.” Court documents say he then told them that he put the dog in the heating element of the smoker, which was turned on.
Oh yeah, I’m sure God’s loving the smell of smoked poodle. That’s gotta be a refreshing change from all those lambs and cows and shit he got in the past. Plus it’s been so long.
So what was the sin that prompted Mr. Thompson to offer up his only poodle to his Lord and Saviour? Why, only one of the most horrific things you’ve ever heard of:
Detectives investigated further and learned that shortly after returning home, Thompson became upset with a shirt that his 17-year-old daughter had. Investigators said he believed the shirt had to do with the devil. That paperwork says Thompson made his daughter take the shirt and go with him to a large BBQ traveler that’s parked in a side yard. The smoker was lit and police report that Thompson put the shirt in the trailer, burning it.
The article doesn’t say what the T-shirt had on it that was so terrible, but I’m sure it was something like “I’m with stupid.” or “I love One Direction.” You know, really evil stuff.
But hey, you can’t judge this guy! He was only doing what he truly believed his God wanted him to do. He was sure calamity was about to befall his family unless he took immediate action. Of course, he was also high as a kite at the time, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t save his family with his quick thinking. God can be pretty fucking demanding! Just read the Bible and you’ll see that for yourself. At least he didn’t opt to use his 6-year-old son instead, right? Can’t say that about Abraham and his kid. I bet if Abraham had had a poodle God wouldn’t have stopped him just before he completed the act. Smoked poodle is delicacy in some places.